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news, views and issues around Greenwich, Charlton, Blackheath and Woolwich, south-east London – what you won't read in Greenwich Time

Blackheath fireworks – how Greenwich hosted it without paying

with 14 comments

So, what did you make of last night’s Blackheath fireworks? Not as good as last year? People always say that. But you could definitely feel the effects of the cost-cutting, I thought. Two years ago there was music, last year – after Greenwich Council pulled out – there wasn’t, and this year it felt a little less intense.

As ever, though, all this things are subjective – music sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t. And I’m spoilt because I’ve been to the Fallas displays in Valencia which do things you could never get away with in England (like starting at 1.30am).

Micro-gripes aside, it was great, kept me quiet for 20 minutes, and Lewisham Council deserves congratulations for organising a fine display.

Sharp-eyed viewers, however, might spot that the fireworks were launched from a slightly different location this year – the north side of the A2. Inside Greenwich Council’s area – the same council that’s refused to co-fund the fireworks for the second year running.

That’s only 10 days after Greenwich’s culture cabinet member John Fahy brushed off a question about his council funding the fireworks because it “takes place in Lewisham”. It certainly didn’t…

Presumably, that’s because of the nippy south-eastern wind that was blowing across the heath last night. But it highlights the stupidity of Greenwich refusing to fund, and barely acknowledging, a major fireworks display which ended up taking place within its borders – yet still doling out cash for a drink-up to celebrate having a new mayor.

I’m pleased, however, that Cllr Fahy has posted here to say that there is “a strong argument for holding a firework display in Greenwich. Would this be supported?” Well, there was a fireworks display in Greenwich borough last night. It’s just that Greenwich didn’t pay for it.

The whole point of having a fireworks display on Blackheath – which has been running for about 25 years now, I reckon – was that it enabled both boroughs to pool resources to have a huge event on a big open space that’s widely accessible by public transport from a wide area, and is close to scores of bars and restaurants who’ll benefit from a boost in business.

The crowds outside the Vanburgh Tavern in Greenwich, a good 15 minutes from the fireworks, was proof of the boost the fireworks bring to both boroughs. There’s no other location in Greenwich borough – nor Lewisham, for that matter – that can offer that.

So if Cllr Fahy wants some advice, here it is. Bin the mayoral booze-ups, put some money back into the Blackheath fireworks again, and support Lewisham’s attempts to raise cash from businesses and the public. Greenwich Council’s current stance embarrasses the people of the borough, all because of the council leadership’s desire to make an empty political point. Well, they’ve done it, and we’ve seen through it.

It’s time for Greenwich to swallow its pride, and get back on board with London’s best fireworks display.

Donate £3 to Blackheath fireworks by texting “Fireworks” to 70007 (70p of this goes to Breast Cancer Care) or give any sum you like by visiting www.lewisham.gov.uk/fireworks.

14 Responses

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  1. The Duke in Deptford, even further away, was very busy by about 9pm with people who’d been to the fireworks, which goes to show that the benefits to local businesses do extend much wider than you would expect.

    Deptford Dame

    6 November, 2011 at 7:34 am

  2. I don’t always say that it was not as good as last year, but last night was a bit short on rhythm, loud bangs and suchlike.

    One of the great joys of Blackheath fireworks was the same last night as previous years, and that is hundreds of people from Deptford walking up Blackheath Hill together, no doubt it is the same from other directions. There are not many things in this day and age where so many people from a community do something together so from that point of view it has value way beyond pyrotechnics.

    The children I saw last night enjoyed it, and I have an invitation for a good vantage point for the fireworks after the Lord Mayor’s show next week, so all in all I cannot complain.

    Bill Ellson

    6 November, 2011 at 2:18 pm

  3. Yes, there’s a similar feeling when you walk from Charlton. Less of a hill, mind :-)

    Darryl

    6 November, 2011 at 3:25 pm

  4. “One of the great joys of Blackheath fireworks was the same last night as previous years, and that is hundreds of people from Deptford walking up Blackheath Hill together, no doubt it is the same from other directions. There are not many things in this day and age where so many people from a community do something together so from that point of view it has value way beyond pyrotechnics.”

    I completely agree Bill, this is why I love these fireworks.

    Lara Ruffle (@lararuffle)

    6 November, 2011 at 3:49 pm

  5. Big thanks for the fireworks from the eighteen Guides who were spending the weekend in London. From Alnwick in Northumberland – they all had a brilliant time and loved the fireworks and the atmosphere.

    clare

    6 November, 2011 at 5:13 pm

  6. The people going up the hill to the Heath reminded me of a modern day version of Dickens’ trek to the Hornfair — erm, minus the wenches of course…..

    Chris

    7 November, 2011 at 9:58 am

  7. I welcomed the lack of music – for me it never worked – it was music and fireworks going on at the same time but completely independent of each other, and I much preferred them au naturel. I enjoyed the display.

    I tried to find buckets to top up my donation but there weren’t any near me on the Greenwich side of the heath (just the place I would expect them to target donations from guilty Greenwichians) Perhaps next year they can include Paypal on the site.

    But the most shameful thing on the part of Greenwich Council is this, as pointed out by someone on my site (may even have been you, Darryl)

    http://www.greenwich.gov.uk/Greenwich/LeisureCulture/EntertainmentEvents/FireworksAtBlackheath.htm

    where they tell you to enjoy a magnificent display – as though they paid for it themselves. Not a mention of somewhere to donate. Disgraceful.

    TGP

    7 November, 2011 at 10:52 am

  8. “I tried to find buckets to top up my donation but there weren’t any near me on the Greenwich side of the heath” <<< Same here, no luck for me and for the five people with me.

    "But the most shameful thing on the part of Greenwich Council is this, as pointed out by someone on my site, where they tell you to enjoy a magnificent display – as though they paid for it themselves. Not a mention of somewhere to donate. Disgraceful." <<< Completely agree! Awful!

    Lara Ruffle (@lararuffle)

    7 November, 2011 at 1:19 pm

  9. It’s a shame really, although you can understand it if they’re trying to save money. A big display like that is a couple of workers’ salaries for the year… I really enjoyed the Blackheath display when I went a few years ago. One of the last big events – I wonder if there’ll be any left by next year :(

    The Londoneer

    7 November, 2011 at 11:07 pm

  10. If they were trying to save money, they’d stop having piss-ups for the mayor.

    Darryl

    7 November, 2011 at 11:59 pm

  11. A big fireworks display is great for an area’s economy, as well as being a hugely great event for literally tens of thousands of people, of all ages.

    There is also the argument that public firework displays prevent or discourage some rather dangerous ‘private’ displays taking place, which can end up being very expensive in terms of accidents etc.

    Greenwich Council’s record is absolutely shameful, If Lewisham Council can contribute then so should Greenwich….end of story.

    Mark

    9 November, 2011 at 10:01 pm

  12. [...] Greenwich councillors might see the benefits, and make sure the “royal” borough, which actually hosted the display last year, pays its fair share again instead of a third year of sulking on the [...]

  13. [...] Last year, the fireworks were actually launched from Greenwich’s side of the heath. [...]

  14. […] shouldered the responsibility of raising the cash for the event on its own – even if the firing site’s been outside its borders. The event’s always had some kind of sponsorship, but Lewisham has tried to come up with […]


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